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FRiENDi enters Malaysian mobile market via Sarawak

by Sharon Kong, sharonkong@theborneopost.com. Posted on September 13, 2013, Friday

NEW PLAYER: Klindt, Ting, and Jeffrey Lim, area sales manager for Sarawak, FriENDi mobile Malaysia, posing with a mock SIM card at the launching of FRiENDi mobile on Thursday.

KUCHING: Virgin Mobile MEA (Middle East and Africa) and Malaysian partner Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd have launched the FRiENDi mobile prepaid service to help Malaysians communicate better with their local and global circle of friends and loved ones.

Virgin Mobile MEA is an associate company of the UK-based Virgin Group Ltd, led by global entrepreneur icon Richard Branson.

During the launch here, FRiENDi mobile Malaysia director and board member Michael Klindt said while Malaysia is undisputably a mature market for basic voice and messaging services, there were still many things that can be done to give customers better mobile experience.

“We studied the Malaysian market for 18 months and found that customers in Malaysia are frustrated with the mobile rates being seen as confusing and expensive, that the current market practice of charging either per minute or per 30 seconds is leading to unfairly higher costs for the customers, and the validity of prepaid cards is perceived as being much too short,” he outlined during the launch.

“Using this valuable insights from customers across Malaysia and representing all ethnic groups, we have designed the FRiENDi mobile product to address all these frustrations, so today is indeed a great day for mobile customer in Malaysia” said Klindt.

With this move, the new player hopes to tap into Sarawak’s population of almost 2.5 million people. They also hope to be the choice of many foreigners working and studying in the Borneo state.

“We are very excited to enter the Malaysian mobile market with FRiENDi mobile, and with the Virgin Mobile global experience we are introducing customer benefits not available in Malaysia until today.

“With our low rates for local and international calls, per second charging after the first minute, and the unique lifetime validity, we expect to be warmly received by the Malaysian mobile customers, and we look forward to serve all our new customers,” stated Klindt.

From the day of launch, FRiENDi mobile has the support from a wide distribution network with 1,500 dealers across Malaysia, and the dealer network will be further expanded over time.

“Our SIM cards can be found at any phone shop in town. These range of dealers available selling our SIM cards, our FRiENDi mobile products, will increase everyday.

“Currently, for the whole of East Malaysia, we have close to 1,000 distribution points.

“As long as our products are widely available, the number will continue to increase over the months ahead,” Ting Sii Hu, FRiENDi mobile regional sales manager of East Malaysia, reiterated.

Ting went on to explain that in the East Malaysian region, FRiENDi mobile is currently riding on Maxis’ network, while in terms of its 3G service, it is riding on U Mobile’s network.

“Therefore, the penetration rate is more than 90 per cent in terms of population. Basically, it is available almost everywhere, from major towns to the smaller places,” he reiterated.

Ting acknowledged that overall Malaysia, including Sarawak, are very mature markets.

With a mobile penetration rate of over 140 per cent in Malaysia, it is definitely a very competitive market here. However, with our unique value proposition, we stand a very good chance to make inroads quickly into the market.

“In addition, I believe our value proposition will be well-received by the consumers of Sarawak,” he added.

In terms of why they decided to launch in East Malaysia first, Klindt explained that for this region, despite the competition, they saw that with their value proposition and knowledge, they could find some segment where they can go in-depth into the market.

For big operators, they need to cover all the different segments, whereas we can just focus on one segment specifically. We saw that there was a big opportunity in both Sarawak and Sabah, with the locals and migrants, where people require a more traditional and basic telecommunication services.

“Having said that, we will launch in Peninsular Malaysia this week as well,” he added.

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